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A Three-Day Birthday

Saturday was my birthday so I went to the spa in the morning to get a haircut, manicure and pedicure. Brian planned a romantic get-away weekend, so as soon as I got home, we hit the road on the way to Jackson, NH where we had reservations at the Inn at Ellis River. We stayed in the Cottage House, about 10 steps from the main inn, but with a bit more privacy, peace and quiet. As you can see from Brian’s pictures, it was a 2-story, cozy renovated ice house where we could sit on the couch and read, soak in the jacuzzi tub after a tough snow shoeing excursion, or take an afternoon nap. It even had a fireplace. Brian had ordered a fruit and cheese plate for our arrival, so we snacked and settled in after Christine showed us around the Inn. We had reservations at the Christmas Farm for dinner at 7:30pm. The spinach/mushroom strudel and eggplant Napolean were delicious, as were our desserts (Brian went for chocolate, I went for apple pie with home-made ice cream). The waitress was awesome too – attentive, friendly, and a great sense of timing. Went went back to the cottage full and happy.

Sunday morning we had breakfast – lots of good eating on this vacation – and then headed to Wildcat for our first real show-shoeing expedition. As soon as we got out of the car, the wind went right through my two layers, so I donned my gore-tex jacket and we took off along the trail. The first mile to Lost Pond was nice and flat, and very pretty. The snow was much fluffier and thus more conducive to snow shoeing than we had last weekend at the state park. We decided to try to hit one of Wildcat’s peaks on the 4000′ list. After very slow and leg-burning progress up to the first ledge, much of it clambering on all fours at least for me, we decided to turn back. We returned to the cottage, soaked in the hot tub, took a nap, enjoyed sitting in the parlor of the inn, and read a bit – a relaxing afternoon. We chatted with Frank the innkeeper/bartender (also the waiter, desk clerk, dog walker, phone-answerer, etc.) before heading out for dinner at the Red Fox. We sat in the pub, ate more, talked more, and had a very leisurely dinner. Our bartender/waiter maintained the high level of service and friendliness that seemed to be standard in Jackson.

But wait, there’s more! Yes, I had three days of birthday celebration this year. Monday we enjoyed another tasty breakfast at the Inn, packed up, checked out, and headed to a more moderate snow-shoe trail, up to Peaked Mountain. This was the kind of snow shoeing I had in mind. We wandered around for a while, eventually found the trail, hiked up to the top, enjoyed gorgeous views, and hiked back down. On the way back, we discovered that our 40 minutes of initial wandering (some of it clearly-off trail, most of it seemingly on some trail) should have taken 8 minutes if we had started in the right spot. Ah well, we got to do some trail-blazing and enjoyed the scenery. You can see that by the time I got to the top, I had also worked up quite a sweat, shedding my fleece for a few minutes to let the steam roll off me. It was a good workout! The gaiters were the quiet heroes of the trip, keeping the snow out of our boots as we kicked, tromped, climbed and slid along the trail.

When we got back to the car, it was time to head back to the real world. We’re already unpacked and have the laundry done. Brian’s hoping that he doesn’t have to top this weekend for a while, since it’s hard to imagine a much more relaxing or thoroughly enjoyable time.